US embassy cable - 01HANOI934

FORMER DAEWOOSA EMPLOYEES: INFORMATION SHARING WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS

Identifier: 01HANOI934
Wikileaks: View 01HANOI934 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Hanoi
Created: 2001-04-19 09:42:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: ELAB PREL PHUM PREF VM LABOR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

190942Z Apr 01

2001HANOI00934 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ9556

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ACTION DRL-02   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   ACQ-00   CA-02    CIAE-00  DODE-00  
      SRPP-00  DS-00    EAP-00   FBIE-00  UTED-00  VC-00    TEDE-00  
      INR-00   INSE-00  IO-00    LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   NSAE-00  
      OIC-02   SS-00    TEST-00  DSCC-00  PRM-01   NFAT-00  SAS-00   
        /008W
                  ------------------E149AB  190957Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2607
INFO DEPTLABOR WASHDC
USINS WASHDC
DOJ WASHDC
AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000934 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR P, EAP, DRL, CA, L/EAP, L/CA, L/LEI, EAP/BCLTV 
USDOL FOR ILAB/ JPERLMUTTER, RSHEPARD 
USINS FOR HEADQUARTERS 
JUSTICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS/CRIMINAL DIVISONS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ELAB, PREL, PHUM, PREF, VM, LABOR 
SUBJECT: FORMER DAEWOOSA EMPLOYEES:  INFORMATION SHARING WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS 
 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HANOI  00934  01 OF 02  190957Z 
REF:  A) HANOI 834  B) HANOI 908 C) STATE 61515 
 
1.  (U) SUMMARY: EMBASSY OFFICERS MET WITH LABOR MINISTRY 
OFFICIALS ON APRIL 18 TO SHARE INFORMATION REGARDING THE 
DAEWOOSA CASE AND THOSE FORMER DAEWOOSA EMPLOYEES CURRENTLY 
IN THE U.S.  THESE OFFICIALS APPRECIATED THE INFORMATION AS 
WELL AS USG EFFORTS TO BRING TO JUSTICE THOSE RESPONSIBLE 
FOR THE ALLEGED ABUSES OF THE VIETNAMESE WORKERS AT 
DAEWOOSA.  BUT THEY ALSO COMMUNICATED THEIR CONCERN FOR THE 
WORKERS AND REGRETTED THAT THE USG HAD NOT SHARED THIS 
INFORMATION IN A MORE TIMELY MANNER.  EMBOFFS WERE ALSO TOLD 
THAT THOSE WORKERS WHO RETURNED TO VIETNAM HAVE RECEIVED 
RELIEF FROM THE FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS TO THE LABOR EXPORT 
COMPANIES CONTAINED IN THEIR CONTRACTS TO WORK AT DAEWOOSA. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
MEETING WITH LABOR OFFICIALS 
---------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) FOLLOWING UP A MEETING WITH THE MFA (REF A) 
REGARDING THE VIETNAMESE FORMER EMPLOYEES OF THE AMERICAN 
SAMOA-BASED DAEWOOSA, ON APRIL 18, THE EMBASSY  ORALLY 
DELIVERED THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN REF C TO DR. TRAN VAN 
HANG, THE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT FOR ADMINISTRATION OF 
FOREIGN-EMPLOYED LABOR FORCE AT THE MINISTRY OF LABOR, 
INVALIDS AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS (MOLISA). 
 
3.  (SBU) MR. HANG'S RESPONSE WAS MEASURED BUT APPRECIATIVE 
IN TONE.  HE WAS PLEASED TO RECEIVE THE INFORMATION WHICH HE 
WOULD PASS TO THE WORKERS' FAMILIES, 40 OF WHOM HE SAID HAD 
VISITED HIM TWO DAYS PREVIOUSLY SEEKING INFORMATION ABOUT 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  00934  01 OF 02  190957Z 
THE WELFARE AND WHEREABOUTS OF THE WORKERS.  HE CONVEYED THE 
GVN'S SUPPORT FOR USG PROSECUTION OF DAEWOOSA OWNER KIL SOO 
LEE.  AND HE WAS PLEASED THAT THE DOJ WOULD ASSIST THOSE 
WORKERS WHO CHOSE TO DO SO TO CONTACT GVN AUTHORITIES IN THE 
U.S. AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO CONTACT THEIR FAMILIES. 
 
4.  (SBU) BUT, HE EXPRESSED CONCERN FOR THE SAFETY AND 
WELFARE OF THE WORKERS.  HE REGRETTED THAT THE USG HAD NOT 
INFORMED HIS GOVERNMENT PRIOR TO MOVING THE WORKERS FROM 
AMERICAN SAMOA.  IN HANG'S OPINION THE CASE WOULD NOT NOW BE 
"SO COMPLICATED" IF THE TWO SIDES HAD SHARED INFORMATION AND 
COORDINATED FROM THE BEGINNING.  LIKE MFA OFFICIALS, HE 
CLAIMED THAT "BAD PEOPLE" HAD MET WITH WORKERS IN AMERICAN 
SAMOA AND HAD CONVINCED THEM TO GO TO THE UNITED STATES 
INSTEAD OF RETURNING TO VIETNAM BY PROMISING THAT THEY AND 
THEIR FAMILIES WOULD BE GET "T-VISAS."  (HE SAID HE HAD 
COPIES OF PAMPHLETS PROVIDED TO THE WORKERS MAKING SUCH 
CLAIMS AND PROMISED TO PROVIDE COPIES TO THE EMBASSY.) 
 
5.  (SBU) HANG DID NOT REPEAT THE MFA'S REQUEST (SEE REFS A 
AND B) FOR THE NAMES, ADDRESSES AND OTHER DETAILS ABOUT THE 
WORKERS IN THE U.S.  RATHER, HE CONFIDENTLY STATED THAT OF 
THE 252 VIETNAMESE WORKERS AT DAEWOOSA, 78 HAVE RETURNED TO 
DATE AND 174 WENT TO HAWAII WITH NONE REMAINING IN AMERICAN 
SAMOA.  HE SAID HE WAS SURE OF THIS BECAUSE A MOLISA 
INTERPRETER, WHO WAS IN POSSESSION OF THE AIR TICKETS THE 
GVN HAD PURCHASED TO BRING ALL THE WORKERS HOME, HAD 
REMAINED IN AMERICAN SAMOA UNTIL ALL THE VIETNAMESE WORKERS 
HAD DEPARTED FOR ONE DESTINATION OR THE OTHER.  (COMMENT: 
THIS GAVE US THE IMPRESSION THAT HE HAS A FAIRLY GOOD IDEA 
OF THE IDENTITIES OF THE WORKERS WHO WENT TO THE U.S.  END 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  00934  01 OF 02  190957Z 
COMMENT.) 
 
6.  (SBU) HOWEVER, HANG REQUESTED THAT, AFTER THE TRIAL, USG 
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR FACILITATING AND FINANCING THE 
WORKERS' RETURN TO VIETNAM.  THE GVN, HE NOTED, RECOGNIZED 
THAT IT WAS POSSIBLE THAT SOME WORKERS WOULD REMAIN IN THE 
U.S.  IN SUCH CASES, HE REQUESTED THAT THE U.S. SHARE WITH 
THE GVN THE GROUNDS FOR APPROVAL FOR THE CHANGE IN THEIR 
STATUS. 
 
DOJ LETTER 
---------- 
7.  (U)  EMBASSY APPRECIATES HAVING RECEIVED THE JUSTICE 
DEPARTMENT'S LETTER TO THE FORMER DAEWOOSA EMPLOYEES.  WE 
FAXED IN APRIL 19 TO THE AMERICAS DEPARTMENT AT THE MFA AND 
THE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT AT MOLISA.  WE ARE 
SURE THAT THESE AGENCIES WILL APPRECIATE ANY ADDITIONAL 
INFORMATION WASHINGTON AGENCIES CAN PROVIDE REGARDING THE 
WORKERS AND THEIR SITUATION IN THE U.S. 
 
ASSISTANCE FOR WORKERS WHO RETURNED 
----------------------------------- 
 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HANOI  00934  02 OF 02  190957Z 
8. (U) EMBOFFS TOOK THIS OPPORTUNITY TO INQUIRE ABOUT THOSE 
DAEWOOSA EMPLOYEES THAT HAD ALREADY RETURNED TO VIETNAM. 
HANG SAID THAT MOLISA WAS WORKING WITH THE VIETNAMESE 
EMBASSY IN SEOUL TO EXPLORE MEANS OF SECURING PAYMENT OF 
BACK WAGES FROM DAEWOOSA'S SOUTH KOREAN-BASED PARENT 
COMPANY. 
 
8.  (U) IN ADDITION, VARIOUS FEES AND PENALTIES FOR WHICH 
THE WORKERS' WERE POTENTIALLY LIABLE WERE BEING WAIVED 
AND/OR REPAID.  THESE INCLUDED JOB PLACEMENT FEES, DEPOSITS 
AND CONTRACT PERFORMANCE PENALTIES.  MOST OF THE WORKERS' 
HAD BEEN PAYING THE JOB PLACEMENT FEES IN INSTALLMENTS, BUT 
A FEW PAID SOME OR ALL OF IT IN ADVANCE.  THESE PAYMENTS ARE 
TO BE SUSPENDED AND/OR REFUNDED, IF PAID IN ADVANCE, FOR 
THOSE PERIODS FOR WHICH THE WORKERS RECEIVED NO PAY 
THROUGHOUT THE TERM OF THE CONTRACT.  (COMMENT:  THIS MIGHT 
MEAN THAT WORKERS WHO RECEIVE BACK WAGE PAYMENTS IN THE 
FUTURE WILL BE OBLIGATED TO PAY THE INSTALLMENT FOR THE 
PERIOD FOR WHICH THEY ARE BEING PAID. END COMMENT.) 
 
9.  (U) SECOND, MANY WORKERS PAID A DEPOSIT WHICH WAS 
INTENDED TO GO TOWARDS PAYING A $5000 PENALTY IF THEY FAILED 
TO HONOR THE CONTRACT.  IN THIS CASE, THE DEPOSITS ARE BEING 
PAID BACK, AND THE WORKERS WILL NOT BE SUBJECT TO THE $5000 
PENALTY.  EMBOFFS ASKED WHETHER THIS ALSO APPLIED TO THE 
WORKERS THAT HAD RETURNED IN 1999 AND 2000, MANY OF WHOM 
WERE ALLEGEDLY FORCIBLY RETURNED TO VIETNAM AFTER THEY WENT 
ON STRIKE OR TOOK OTHER ACTIONS TO TRY TO IMPROVE THEIR 
SITUATION AT DAEWOOSA.  HERE TOO, THE WORKERS WILL NOT BE 
REQUIRED TO PAY THE CONTRACT PERFORMANCE PENALTIES.   HANG 
TOLD US THAT ONE OF THE LABOR EXPORT COMPANIES HAD TRIED TO 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  00934  02 OF 02  190957Z 
GO TO COURT TO FORCE SOME OF THESE WORKERS TO PAY THE 
PENALTY, BUT THE COURT REFUSED TO HEAR THE CASE SAYING THAT 
THE WORKERS FAILED TO COMPLETE THEIR CONTRACTS FOR REASONS 
BEYOND THEIR CONTROL AND THEREFORE HAD NO LIABILITY. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
11.  (SBU) COMMENT: JUDGING FROM HANG'S QUIETLY POSITIVE 
REACTION TO OUR DISCUSSION, WASHINGTON AGENCIES' DECISION TO 
SHARE INFORMATION WITH THE GVN AND TO FACILITATE 
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THOSE WORKERS WHO SO DESIRED AND THEIR 
GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES AND FAMILIES HAS HELPED EASE SOME 
TENSION.  AT LEAST WITHIN MOLISA, A CERTAIN REALISM IS 
SHAPING OFFICIALS' OPINIONS.  THEY SEEM GENUINELY PLEASED 
THAT ALLEGED WRONG-DOINGS IN THE CASE ARE BEING ADDRESSED 
AND ARE SUPPORTIVE OF THAT EFFORT.   THEY ALSO SEEM TO HAVE 
ACCEPTED THAT SOME WORKERS MAY WELL REMAIN IN THE UNITED 
STATES ONCE THE COURT CASE HAS BEEN COMPLETED.  ON THE OTHER 
HAND, MOLISA MAY AT SOME POINT JOIN THE MFA WHICH IS LIKELY 
TO CONTINUE TO PRESS FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE WORKERS, 
ACCESS TO THE WORKERS AND A NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT ON 
REPATRIATION OF THE WORKERS.  BUT FOR NOW, A CONTINUED 
SUPPLY OF INFORMATION WILL HELP THEM MOST WITH THEIR 
PRIORITY TASKS WHICH ARE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO THE 
WORKERS' FAMILIES HERE IN VIETNAM AND TO DEVELOP WAYS TO 
AVOID SUCH INCIDENTS AGAIN IN THE FUTURE. 
PETERSON 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
 


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